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Which European cruise?


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We are finally looking into our first European visit, probably 2023 or 24. We have traveled all over US and Caribbean, but have not made it to Europe yet. Now that the kids are older, we think it's time. We are late thirties, plus 13-15 year olds. We've only been on 4 cruises (Brilliance, radiance, majesty and empress. We have only experienced small ships, which we were fine with, so that's not really a factor). We would be traveling late may, early June. I want to see it all, so I'm having trouble deciding where to start. I think given RCLs options, western med and Northern Europe would be what I would decide between. We like all kinds of different experiences, including adventure, history, different cultures and foods.  Given time of year and first experience in Europe, any suggestions on which we should choose? We would plan on coming 3-4 days early to explore.

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Given the kids are 13-15, you may want to try a RCL ship that has a Flowrider and some of the other bells and whistles. Might also want to take a look at Celebrity, i.e. Apex to Ireland/Iceland in early June.

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I'd combine your cruise with a land vacation and hit London and Paris plus something away from the cities. 20 years ago we took our boys on a three week London, Paris, Normandy (Bayuex Tapestry, Landing Beaches, and Mont Saint Michel) trip with some Loire valley castles and a weekend in Switzerland thrown in. They were 9, 11, and 13, and are all now independent travelers who love to see the world. I love cruising, and (fingers crossed) we're doing the Greek Isles in 2022, but I'm glad we did the trip we did with our boys.

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With kids I wouldn't opt for Celebrity. If RCI has a Western Med out of Barcelona that might be an option...we did it on Liberty (Freedom class ship). Greece is also a good pick but RCI tends to do this itinerary on smaller ships.

Once itineraries come out you hopefully will have some nice options to choose from...Best of luck !!

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I have been on 2 RC European cruises. The first one was in July and left out of Rome (Civitavecchia) with ports in Athens, Sicily, Kusadasi and Crete. It was great but very hot!!

The next one was out of Venice at the end of September with stops in Athens, Mykonos, Montenegro and Corfu. It was my favorite! Venice was just so different then any other place I had been to and Montenegro was absolutely beautiful!
Have fun planning your trip!
Pam

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Thanks, all! I think we'll decide between a cruise out of Barcelona or Copenhagen. Now I just have to (im)patiently wait for cruises to be released for summer 2023.

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We took our daughter on a med cruise from barcelona. Easy to get too, well for us in the UK, Oasis class ship so lots to do on board for her and the stops were full of culture, rome, naples, marseille 

 

Just be warned the baltic states, norway denmark, sweden are very expensive on land. Weather not always the best but the fjords are amazing.

 

For me out of the two id want weather, nice history, good weather and with children value for money. So would be barcelona.

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2 hours ago, Kelli0927 said:

Thanks, all! I think we'll decide between a cruise out of Barcelona or Copenhagen. Now I just have to (im)patiently wait for cruises to be released for summer 2023.

Copenhagen airport is about 30 minutes from the cruise port.

 

Barcelona airport is about 20 minutes ( on a good day ) from the cruise port.

 

Both great cities albeit Copenhagen far more expensive.

 

Copenhagen departure for the history and Barcelona for the weather.

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17 hours ago, Kelli0927 said:

We are finally looking into our first European visit...We are late thirties, plus 13-15 year olds. ...

I want to see it all

 

17 hours ago, Ourusualbeach said:

I would suggest either a Greek isles sailing out of Rome

 

"All"? Impossible. But for your ages, and especially your very 1st visit,  Rome is your #1 choice in my humble opinion. How can you go to Europe for the first time and not stand in the Colosseum or the Vatican!!!!??? And if you can, you will create a life long memory spending 4-7 days on land pre-cruise travelling by fast train visiting Venice (& Florence).

 

3 hours ago, Kelli0927 said:

Thanks, all! I think we'll decide between a cruise out of Barcelona or Copenhagen. Now I just have to (im)patiently wait for cruises to be released for summer 2023.

 

Re-think starting in Rome. Rome is 1000 times more magical. Copenhagen cruises will be predominantly older crowd. You're in your thirties... Italy/Greece/Croatia are absolute magic.... History/site seeing/beaches/food. Starting in Barcelona but still reaching Rome & Greek Isles 2nd choice, but waste time (sea days) getting too/from various ports when starting in Barcelona..

 

14 day b2b on Jewel - Western Med & Eastern Med/Greek Isles

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2446123-jewel-b2b-greecew-med-semi-live-aug24-sept14-review-wlots-of-photos/

 

12 day Med on Serenade (Malta/Amalfi/Kotor/Venice/Dubrovnik)

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2028118-serenade-sept-17-282014-review-wlots-of-photos/

 

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With your kids at the ages they are I would say Barcelona would be a great choice to sail from. It may not have the culture of Rome but there are some really cool places to visit - my boys loved it when they were teens and have been back independently since. You will also be visiting at a great time of year for weather so a cruise from Barcelona would inevitably include ports which would enable you to have a beach day, as well as mixing it up with some culture. Be aware that the last week in May is a school holiday for many European countries so prices will reflect that.

 

When you narrow it down to where appeals to you, come back onto the boards for advice - and also use the Med Ports of Call boards for specific advice on each port.

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Posted (edited)

Our first family trip to Europe was 3 weeks on land in 2000, when our kids were 10, 13, and 16. We spent a week in London, 10-days driving through Germany,  and 4 days in Paris. Rick Steves' guide books were very helpful, especially Europe Through the Back Door (https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/europe-through-the-back-door).  Rick's Mediterranean Cruise Ports and Scandinavian & Northern European Cruise Ports books are great for those arriving by cruise ship, and will help you decide where to sail (https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/mediterranean-cruise-ports; https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/northern-european-cruise-ports).

Edited by NancyIL
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We loved our cruise on brilliance out of Barcelona a few years ago, loved spending a couple of days in Barcelona precruise, we did a 12 day cruise with 5 stops in Italy, also Kotor and Dubrovnik. Agree on Rick Steves but see the videos on YouTube. 

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Try to aim for June to ensure that you will have fantastic weather in the Mediteranean. To keep your kids entertained propably a good idea to go for a one week Mediteranean cruise on one of the newer ships. The choice of itinarary would be based on your preferences, same for the trip you plan to do before or after by land. Hence, if you start and end a Cruise from rome you could rent after a Car and explorer various places in Italy or instead fly to a other part of Europe and do a road trip from there. Switzerland, Germany or the Netherlands for instance. The choice will need to depend on the time you go and things you are looking to see.  For the cruise you will need to wait as Summer 2023 itinararies will only be published late this year earliest. What I would suggest as a first timer in Europe is to do a cruise that covers Italy, France and Spain as this enables you to get to see 3 countries within a week. Greece and Northern Europe would rather be for me a trip to do when returning to Europe another time.

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You won't be able to see it all on a cruise so the key is to prioritize.  A European cruise is so busy with port days that the ship for me would be secondary (even if travelling with teenagers).

 

Are there particular countries or cities that appeal more to you?   If Rome is important to you I strongly recommend sailing from Civitavecchia so that you can spend 3-4 days pre-cruise in Rome vs. choosing an itinerary that visits it as a port stop and then you're trying to cram all of Rome into a 9 or 10 hour day.   

 

Another option could be trying to find an itinerary that starts in one port and ends in another (i.e. Barcelona to Rome) as that would allow a pre-stay in one place and then a few days for a post-cruise stay somewhere else.

 

Our first Med cruise was a 12 night out of Barcelona (spent a few days in Paris precruise) and we visited France, Italy, Croatia and Montenegro.  Second cruise was an 11 night  out of Civitavecchia (spent a few days precruise in Florence & Rome) and we visited Greece, Turkey & Italy.  Both offered an overnight stay (the first one was in Venice and the second one was in Athens).  

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11 hours ago, Kelli0927 said:

Thanks, all! I think we'll decide between a cruise out of Barcelona or Copenhagen. Now I just have to (im)patiently wait for cruises to be released for summer 2023.

Rick Steve's has several europe travel shows.  I recommend watching his tv shows to help give you a better idea.

Imo, I would go with western med out of barcelona or baltic sailing out of copenhagen or stockholm, july or august suppose to great month for baltic

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If I was cruising Southern Europe I would totally avoid summer , there is lots of walking in most ports , we were there in mid September and it weather was very uncomfortable. When visiting Vatican and churches can’t wear shorts .

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In the Med it’s all about the ports.  You will all be too shattered to enjoy the ship in all honesty.  For example on the Rome day people are getting off the ship at 6.00 am and don’t get back until around 7.00 pm.

 

Favourites of ours include:

Venice

Dubrovnik

Split

La Spezia for Cinque Terre

Livorno for bike riding in Lucca

Corfu

sardinia for the beaches

Naples - I could spend a week here.  Good to see, sorrento, pizza making in Positano, Capri.  Avoid the Amalfi drive if you get travel sick.  Pompeii is here too.

Barcelona - hop on hop off bus, takes you everywhere, magic fountains one evening. There is a cable car that the kids would enjoy and a chocolate museum,

Kotor is breathtaking sailing into port, it’s a bit like the fjords.

 

We haven’t explored very much of Greece, so I have Santorini and Mykonos on my list.

Rhodes is nice and usually the ship docks right in town.

 

last year we were on the Oasis, with all the main ports that we’ve done before and there was lots and lots for the kids to do too.  I was surprised by how much we liked the ship. ideally your best cruise would be a 10 or 11 nighter and by 2023 Carnival may be back, we’ve cruised with them three times, twice in the med and my teen loved it.


 

i personally don’t care for Rome, but if you are visiting all the way from the US then you will want to see it.

 

ship tours are very expensive, I usually diy everything and travel on public transport and then just have a couple of private tours that I share with other cruisers. For example our Amalfi coast tour with Pizza making in Positano and a stop at Ravello worked out at €70 each a few years ago.  At the time the ship were charging over $200 each.

 

 

 

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